Better-than-expected attendance and active participation marked the first joint Québec Medical Association (QMA)/Canadian Medical Association (CMA) symposium for physician executives held recently in Montreal.
The event prompted the creation of the first physician executive group in Quebec with six participants volunteering to give an official voice to this new alliance within the medical profession.
The symposium provided an opportunity for the 117 physicians in attendance to speak about leadership issues with experienced panelists from all regions of Quebec.
David Levine, former CEO of the provincial health and social services agency of Montreal, said that physician executives must play a leadership role to transform the health care system and reminded participants of the importance of recognizing the work of these leaders.
He also referenced the passage of two controversial pieces of legislation within Quebec − Bills 10 and 20 – and the additional workload now being asked of physician executives.
How to manage the changes taking place in hospital centres and family medicine groups (FMGs, also known by their French acronym “GMF”) was also on the agenda.
Dr. Annie Léger, director of professional services at the health and social services centre (CISSS) in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, acknowledged that it is important for physician executives to have proper training in health management and sufficient support when implementing a new care delivery model. She said that training and support can help prevent management errors.
Léger said that, in her opinion, interpersonal skills and know-how are essential qualities for physician executives. For his part, Dr. Daniel Roux from the FMG Nouvelle-Beauce stressed the importance of creating a pleasant work environment and being adequately supported by an efficient administrative team to obtain optimal results.
Participants at the joint meeting also tried to identify the components of the “medical genome” that distinguishes physician executives. According to Dr. Vincent Demers, a family physician in Québec City, physicians don’t realize they are managers, but they are all prepared to invest themselves and work together with their colleagues to help and treat patients, regardless of the context in which this care is provided.
According to Dr. Daniel Tardif, assistant Chief Executive Officer of the CISSS in the Outaouais region, the “medical genome,” with its components of compassion and interest in others, can be an extraordinary asset to promote change in the health care network.
Tardif compared the ongoing integration of institutions in Quebec to a relay race in which the baton is the patient, and the care teams need to carry them along and never drop them.
During a discussion on the role of the physician executive in clinical governance, Dr. Yun Jen, President of the QMA, invited QMA and CMA members to engage other physicians so that they also get involved in health management. Along with Dr. Denis Roy of L’institut national d’excellence en santé et en services sociaux, she reiterated the importance of continuing education in management.
Attendees were welcomed by Dr. Abdo Shabah, member of the QMA board of directors, and Tim Smith, Chief Executive Officer of the CMA, who acknowledged the work of physicians who exhibit integrity, compassion and leadership. Smith noted that the current and ongoing changes taking place in our health care system are creating more opportunities than ever before for physicians to occupy leadership roles and steer the future of health care in Canada.
Participants applauded the QMA and the CMA for having taken the initiative to organize the symposium for physician executives, which laid the foundation for a new physician executive group.